Shift planning

How to optimise your call centre team

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Shift planning – How to optimise your call centre team

Shift planning is all about finding the right balance between staff satisfaction and adequate cover for shifts. For years, this meant up to 40 hours of shifts per week, in the office; however over the past decade, with a rising need for a more even work-life balance and the adoption of cloud contact centres, this is changing.

As Simon Sinek, author and motivational speaker, said:

“The responsibility of a company is to serve the customer. The responsibility of leadership is to serve their people so that their people may better serve the customer. If leaders fail to serve their people first, both customer and company will suffer.

Putting your staff needs first as much as you can and taking this into consideration for decisions in the future will majorly increase staff satisfaction and company loyalty.

There are many reasons why traditional in-office call centre shift working is outdated but we’ve uncovered some new ways to make your agents happier and in doing so, increase your productivity.

Tired shift worker

Traditional shift patterns

Many contact centres can find themselves both over and understaffed throughout the workday, with an excess of staff before and after busy periods, and not enough staff during peak times. It’s hard to juggle and get the perfect model.

Splitting these shifts into, for example, 8am- 1pm, break, 6pm – 10pm would open up cover when its needed most. However, no staff member would be prepared to come into the office twice in one day, unless they live minutes away – it simply isn’t worth it.

Remote working allows flexibility to work from home, giving agents time during the day for themselves, whilst also working when they’re needed. It allows them to get out and do the things they love doing during the day, and also allows them to recharge before their second shift making for a happier, well-balanced team.

Optimise your shift planning

Being able to plan shifts comes from analysing past call and contact history, and a cloud contact centre makes this so easy, with real-time reporting of agent availability and incoming query volume and resolution times, even when agents are either in or out of the office. With advanced reporting features, managers can now easily manage their staff from anywhere, understanding their team workload and make immediate changes to improve shifts where needed.

With this advanced knowledge of the challenges and pitfalls, planning for busy periods is much easier.

Planning for employee satisfaction is also extremely important, however everyone’s idea of fair shift planning, and the ‘perfect shift’ is different. There’s a need to move away from shifts where everyone works a 37.5 hour (or similar) week, and shifts are all equal length.

Employees are looking for a mixture of shifts that suit them, while also being fair across the team. It’s important to understand and get feedback from your team through a formal survey or informal chat about how the team prefer to work and assign shifts. Trying your best to accommodate your employees will increase productivity and company loyalty.

Mother and daughter sitting at table and using computers togethe

Work-life balance and welfare of employees

‘Work:life balance’ and ‘hybrid working’ have both been huge buzzwords recently, and new candidates and employees are heavily focused on applying for these types of roles. Being a flexible and understanding employer goes a long way to attracting the right colleagues, so why not offer them shifts that would suit them when to work remotely – they may have a weekly club to attend or need to take care of children on certain days of the week. Whatever the reason, giving agents a chance to set a personal rule on their terms helps them feel valued.

Another idea is to offer incentives to agents which will make them more open to give back when you need them to. If a sudden influx of customers, start calling in at 5pm on a Friday, your staff are more willing to stay and help if they feel like they’re being valued, and possibly rewarded, for their efforts.

Having a cloud contact centre in your corner will help you to navigate planning shifts that will work for both you and your team. By understanding the clear trends of when your peak times are and being able to plan accordingly, you’ll have full insight into what your shift patterns need to be while also giving agents flexibility to work from any location as the solution is fully cloud-based.

Managers are able to manage agent availability remotely to assist with volume and improve the customer experience and response times. They’ll also capable of making immediate changes to allow specifically skilled agents to help out on other contact service channels, like social media, email and WhatsApp, when required.

A cloud contact centre can incorporate a full omnichannel view of all contact service channels making agents’ jobs a lot easier. They get one central window to view and respond to all customer communications, making it much quicker to handle customer queries than having to waste time communicating across several platforms.

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Time for change: A shift in your contact centre

Discover the new ways of working to improve your shifts and make for a happier, more productive contact centre team

Read the guide